Preaching unveils reality. By nature then, preaching is a serious task not to be engaged in casually, but with reverence, because the subject matter is worthy of reverence. Known for his study methods and preaching, John Piper finds authority on such a topic and therefore his writings merit at least consideration, and often application. Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship is not just another book by Piper, but one that magnifies the Lord’s means for growing his people and glorifying himself.
Expository Exultation is the third book in a series that Piper has been working on for several years (the first being A Peculiar Glory in 2016 followed by Reading the Bible Supernaturally in 2017). While each can be read separately, there is definitely a greater value if one reads the three books in order. After establishing the importance of both God’s glory and the authority of Scripture, this final book sets forth how preaching exalts God by proclaiming the Scripture.
The author asserts that preaching is not merely a part of worship but it also is worship, and therefore Piper seeks t establish that preaching is worship that guides people to the ‘beauty and worth of God.’ 21 chapters later, divided into seven parts, Piper elevates the role of preaching not just in the church but in the lives of believers. However, he does not merely start by assuming that readers recognize the authority, function, and place of preaching. Instead, the author begins by asserting the setting for preaching and defending its role in that setting. After explaining what preaching is (sections 3-5) Piper uses the last two sections to examine three questions used for assessment in determining textual meaning when preaching. The bulk of the book (chapters 12-21) deals with this very topic.
Expository Exultation is not merely a how-to book. John Piper offers legitimate and thought-provoking insights about the importance of preaching and the manner of preaching. In typical style, the book follows a logical sequence so that Piper’s arguments are reliable. This reliability is more defined by the author’s specificity in definitions and use of words and his repetition of major points.
Piper is a tremendous author who has a keen ability to cause intelligent and thorough thinking. Readers are forced to not merely accept his premises, but they must engage with them through questioning and analyzation. This is partly because of his gifting to take concepts that appear to be unbiblical and define and apply them with biblical standards. His most well-known book, Desiring God, did this with the concept of hedonism. In this particular book, he continues that trend with discussions on inward worship and denial of the notion “making a beeline for the cross.” Yet, one cannot argue with his rationalization and biblical insight.
However, one area that readers may take issue with comes late in the book (chapter 16). It is there that he discusses the concept of preaching Christ crucified, and in the midst of that Piper seems to suggest that a person can lose his or her salvation. The discussion on this and its relationship to sanctification is brief because the author does not want to utilize the valuable space on a secondary issue. Those who are familiar with Piper certainly know where he stands on such an issue, and readers can appreciate his desire to not migrate from the primary topic. However, for some, his comments may be concerning, especially if they are unfamiliar with John Piper. My urging to those people would be to not ignore this book on that issue; instead, make a simple note of it and investigate it later so as to not miss the importance of the rest of the book.
A common theme runs through all of Piper’s books: he desires to help others to see and savor the worth of God, specifically through the exposition of Scripture. Readers will see such a task not only repeated throughout the book, but they will be compelled to seek a deeper relationship with the Lord as well. Therefore, this is an exceptional read that believers should spend time in. In fact, I would urge readers to spend time reading the trilogy.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher at no cost to me for the purposes of review. However, my review was not influenced in any way by the publisher, the author, or any other person associated with the book and is the result of my own reading of it.